June 22, 2012  Question from Ron S. in Duluth, Minnesota:  Duluth and other areas of St. Louis County in northeastern Minnesota were just hit with very heavy rains during the past few days.  Does the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) conduct stormwater inspections after such devastating events?

Response:  The National Weather Service reported that during the period of June 17th through June 19th areas in and around Duluth, Minnesota’s Arrowhead region and northern Wisconsin received up to 8 to 10 inches of rain. For information as to rainfall amounts recorded in various communities please see:http://www.crh.noaa.gov/dlh/?n=june2012_duluth_flood.  The region is still recovering from this extraordinary rainfall event resulted in massive flooding.  Our thoughts go out to those who have been affected by this terrible event.

Based on discussions with MPCA staff, the MPCA staff reserve the right to conduct inspections of facilities regulated under the construction or industrial stormwater general permits at any time regardless of weather conditions.

Several years ago during heavy rainfall events in southeastern Minnesota, where areas of the State were designated as federal disaster areas, an MPCA inspector was observed conducting inspections to determine permit compliance.

Any party subject to a stormwater permit needs to review conditions at its site, conduct inspections of sediment controls and take any necessary post-rainfall event corrective actions.  If appropriate, revisions should be made to Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPP).  If a party is subject to an enforcement action under Minnesota law, it may be possible to assert an Act of God defense to such violations as provided for in Minn. Stat. § 115.071.

Information about the federal and state stormwater programs and permitting requirements can be found at:http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/stormwater/swbasicinfo.cfm andhttp://www.pca.state.mn.us/index.php/water/water-types-and-programs/stormwater/stormwater.html.

Environmental attorney Joseph Maternowski provides clients with advice and representation on matters involving federal and state environmental regulation.  Joe has represented parties in multiple matters where the MPCA has sought to impose civil penalties to address alleged noncompliance.  For more information on Joe’s background and practice, please visit his You Tube site and watch videos describing his background and practice found at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p1Ybc9Acm8k and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJTDvveG0jY.

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